§ 11.0 p.m.
§ Sir John Crowder (Finchley)
I beg to move,That the Diocesan Education Committees Measure, 1955, passed by the National Assembly of the Church of England, be presented to Her Majesty for her Royal Assent in the form in which the said Measure was laid before Parliament.As the provisions of this Measure are fully and clearly set out in the comments of the Legislative Committee of the Church Assembly which are attached to the Report of the Ecclesiastical Committee, I need not detain the House for more than a few minutes this evening.
This Measure is mainly a consolidating one, most of the provisions of which were accepted when the original Measure was before the House in 1943. The Measure provided for the setting up in every diocese of a diocesan education committee to exercise a general oversight of religious education in the diocese, to formulate policy in the matter of Church schools, and to assist the managers of those schools to carry out their duties.
Each diocese had the choice of creating a new committee or of requesting the Board of Education, as it then was, to make an order designating an existing body as the committee for the purposes of the Measure. A new committee had to be constituted in accordance with the Schedule to the Measure but an existing one did not. That is the reason for this Measure, since difficulties arose in practice because there was no provision for altering the constitution of a committee once it had been established.
An amending Measure was therefore passed in 1951, but this did not go far enough and some difficulties still remain. At the same time doubts have been expressed as to the interpretation of certain parts of the 1951 Measure and, in consequence, the validity of some Orders made under that Measure has been questioned. It seemed desirable, therefore, to make the position clear beyond all doubt for the future and to validate anything that may have been done improperly, though in good faith, in the past. Rather than add yet another Measure to those already dealing with diocesan education committees. It was decided to repeal the two existing Measures and re-enact them with suitable amendments in one Measure. This Measure is the result.
967 All that now remains of the 1943 Measures is Section 3, which deals with war damage. This can be dealt with in the ordinary course of Statute law revision. This Measure was prepared in close consultation with the Ministry of Education. It has been favourably reported on by the Ecclesiastical Committee and passed through the Church Assembly without a division or any amendment of substance being moved.
§ 11.4 p.m.
§ Major H. Legge-Bourke (Isle of Ely)
I do not wish to delay this Motion any longer than is necessary and I hope the Measure will be approved, but I want to make one comment on the Report of the Ecclesiastical Committee.
In the Appendix there are comments and explanations submitted by the Legislative Committee to the Ecclesiastical Committee and there is one sentence about which I should be most grateful for a little elucidation. The last two sentences of the third introductory paragraph read as follows:Under the existing law the committee must either be constituted in accordance with the schedule to the Measure of 1943 or else be a specified body ' in accordance with Section I of the Measure of 1951. By this section the Minister can direct that a certain body shall act as a diocesan education committee, but he can only do so if the body is already acting as such.… Therefore there can be no body that properly comes within the definitionWhat I cannot understand is why that definition is made when the 1951 Measure states, in Section 1:Provided that in any diocese in which there exists or is at any time or times set up a body of persons whether incorporated or not …which acts as the education authority for the Church in the diocese and is charged with the duty of supervising Church Schools and is recognised by the diocesan conference, the Minister of Education upon request … may by order direct—(a) that the specified body shall be deemed to he and shall have all such rights powers duties and obligations as if it were a committee duly set up and constituted in accordance with this section.Those opening words.
Provided that in any diocese in which there exists or is at any time or times set up …form the point which I wish to emphasise. They are not only referring to these specified bodies already set up, but any body 968 which might at any time be set up. I cannot, therefore, understand why it should be found necessary for the Report of the Ecclesiastical Committee to state that the Minister of Education can direct… that a certain body shall act as a diocesan education committee, but he can only do so if the body is already acting as such.That is my only point otherwise, I think that the Measure should have the support of the House.
§ Question put and agreed to.
That the Diocesan Education Committees Measure, 1955, passed by the National Assembly of the Church of England, be presented to Her Majesty for her Royal Assent in the form in which the said Measure was laid before Parliament.